The upcoming “environment” encyclical, “human ecology”, and the everlasting pains of Hell

Brother Sun Sister MoonSome say that the Pope’s next encyclical – on the “environment” – will be called “Laudato sii“.  Some say that that’s Latin.   No.  It isn’t.  It’s the 13th Umbrian which St. Francis of Assisi would have known and in which he penned his Canticle of the Sun.

Of course the catholic Left is wetting itself over the possibilities of denunciation of multinational corporations and free markets, and the magisterial embrace of junk science.

The libs and aging hippies are, even now, loading their cherished copies of Brother Sun Sister Moon into their lovingly preserved VHS tape players.

On the other hand, when I think of St. Francis, I don’t get images of romping through fields of flowers singing to the birds.  Instead, I see Francis railing against priests who do not use beautiful and precious vestments and vessels for Holy Mass.  The real Francis did that, by the way. HERE

When I think of the Canticle of the Sun, I don’t think of playing my guitar on a sidewalk of Haight-Ashbury while some groovy chick well… hard to tell… does an interpretive dance based on the newest pro-sodomy editorial from the National Sodomitical Reporter.

Instead, when I think of the Canticle of the Sun, I hear the last part:

Laudato si mi Signore, per sora nostra Morte corporale,
da la quale nullu homo uiuente pò skappare:
guai a quelli ke morrano ne le peccata mortali;
beati quelli ke trouarà ne le Tue sanctissime uoluntati,
ka la morte secunda no ‘l farrà male.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

People who promote and have sex between people of the same sex are violating God’s obvious will.

Homosexual sex is a mortal sin.  Mortal sin kills the life of grace in the soul.  Mortal sin separates a person from the friendship of God.  People who die in the state of mortal sin, die outside the friendship of God.  They will never see heaven.  Never.  For eternity they will suffer a pain of loss of God so deep that it is called the everlasting agonies of Hell and is known as everlasting fire.

In this encyclical on the “environment”… on “ecology”, the Holy Father will have to touch on what we can call “human ecology”, that is, “natural law”, especially concerning the obvious fact of what God did in creating the human race:

And [God] said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.  And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JARay says:

    One of the fallouts from Ireland’s rejection of Catholicism is that here in Australia we have the leader of the Opposition in our Parliament, Mr Bill Shorten introducing a Bill today to promote Marriage “Equality”. And he was baptised into the Catholic Church! Then we have our Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott, also baptised into the Catholic Church, telling folks on the Television that in his family he is the only one who still upholds the teaching of the Church on Marriage. His sister is an avowed Lesbian and has, of course, been shown on TV with her “partner” demonstrating for Marriage “Equality”.
    Thanks Ireland!
    At the moment the Constitution of Australia declares that Marriage is only between a man and a woman. Now we have some, so-called, Catholics here who want to change that.

  2. Rachel Pineda says:

    “Mortal sin kills the life of grace in the soul. Mortal sin separates a person from the friendship of God. People who die in the state of mortal sin, die outside the friendship of God. They will never see heaven. Never. For eternity they will suffer a pain of loss of God so deep that it is called the everlasting agonies of Hell and is known as everlasting fire.”

    Well, if that doesn’t sober one up I don’t know what will! It is a very profitable to meditate on the four last things. May God grant faith to all in darkness.

  3. Elizabeth D says:

    I was out on a hike yesterday with some Catholic friends and a pair of binoculars and the birds were not obliging me by coming nearby and perching in a visible spot and holding still so I could identify them easily. I began to preach to them like St Francis, hoping to get St Francis’ results, but my friend rebuked me that it was not going to work because my intention was not the same as St Francis’ intention. So I stopped, but really I wish I hadn’t because although my first thought did kind of have to do with birdwatching, I did also genuinely want the birds to know to praise their Creator. I am hoping that Pope Francis’ encyclical will cover best practices and correct motivations for preaching to avian audiences. I have ideas from you now, Fr Z, for a future sermon to the birds about being fruitful and multiplying and being a good example to the humans who look to them and the bees for knowledge of the mysteries of intimate relationships.

  4. Charles E Flynn says:

    Bernini can be sobering:

    Gian Lorenzo Bernini: Anima dannata

  5. Brian Cannon says:

    This reads like Clint Eastwood having a conversation with a chair.

  6. Robbie says:

    None of this makes sense. None of it. It feels like we’re being challenged on every front possible and I’m worried we don’t have enough fingers to plug all of the holes that are developing.

    At this point, I hope the Holy Spirit reminds everyone in Rome that they lead the Catholic Church and not the United Nations. I fear this encyclical on the environment will be as damaging and misused as “Who am I to judge”.

  7. St. Irenaeus says:

    Fr Z is right that human ecology will have to be addressed. The phrase is first used by JPII and then Benedict used it, and Francis too not so long ago. See here and here.

  8. Latin Mass Type says:

    I wish you had not given the link to the National Sodomitical Reporter.

    Otherwise I might have missed it.

  9. Rachel Pineda says:

    “It is time for church teaching to reflect what social science tells us and what Catholic families have long understood: Catholicism must cast off a theology of sexuality based on a mechanical understanding of natural law that focuses on individual acts, and embrace a theology of sexuality that has grown out of lived experience and is based on relationships and intentionality.”

    Wow, just….wow. This statement is disturbing on many levels. And another for good measure..

    “Francis clearly has great expectations for the church, but his vision won’t be realized if he loses a generation of Catholics by imposing on them a teaching they have clearly rejected. The loss would go well beyond the Catholic community. Francis risks losing the credibility the church needs to be an informed moral force in the world.”

    I really have a hard time believing whether or not they actually care about the credibility of the Church. It just seems the concern is more about power and control rather than being an actual witness to Truth. Lord have Mercy!

  10. VeritasVereVincet says:

    So basically, the NSR Fishwrap believes we should stop basing Church teaching on fact and truth and start basing it on emotion and lust, and any appeals to the former are null, void, and bigoted. In other words, “I don’t like this truth because it’s haaaaard, so I’m going to pretend it doesn’t exist.”

    It is not the Church that needs to get with the times. It is the times that need to get with the Church.

  11. Geoffrey says:

    My concern is that this might be the first encyclical since “Mit brennender Sorge” not promulgated in Latin.

  12. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:


    Remember that it will have to issued (and promulgated) in SOME language, so
    is “United-Nations-NGO-Bureaucratese” a language?

  13. Riddley says:

    Yikes! So that’s Liberal catholicism red in tooth and claw… Thanks, National Sodomitical Reporter, for an eye-opening experience.

    I’ve posted a response in the comments section (as “Ed”) but alas it may be too late for any fish to bite.

  14. donato2 says:

    Sandro Magister has pointed out that in the past when encyclicals were titled in the vernacular it was because they were aimed at parochial concern. Thus for example “Mit brennender Sorge” was aimed at the German people and its title was accordingly in German. This encyclical has an Italian title even though it presumably will be on a subject of universal concern. The implicit message thus seems to be: Latin is no longer the language of the universal Church.

  15. LarryW2LJ says:

    I agree with Robbie and Fr. Z. The forthcoming encyclical will be cherry picked by the catholic Left and the Environmental Bed Wetters to further push their agenda. My question is does Pope Francis realize this, and does he even care?

  16. Emilio says:

    To echo the comment above, one has to wonder why a more parochial Papal encyclical, aimed at Catholics in Ireland, instructing them to not betray God as they did with their vote against Holy Marriage, wasn’t published. This seems like quite a lost opportunity.

  17. Charlotte Allen says:

    I’ve never seen “Brother Sun,” but now my curiosity is whetted. How bad could it be, given Franco Zeffirelli’s operatic sense? Plus–Alec Guinness as Pope Innocent III. Sounds kind of cool.

    @Elizabeth D

    If you rise before dawn, you’ll hear the birds praising their Creator at the top of their lungs. I suggest this wonderful book: “Why Birds Sing,” by David Rothenberg. His theory–backed up by biology–is that birds sing mostly for the sheer joy of it. He’s a jazz clarinetist, and he likes to jam along with the birds.

  18. DonL says:

    “Respect” for the earth and the plant and creatures that God gave man, requires “wise use’ of our resources–not “protection.”
    The world cannot become a giant “preserve” (non-use) in the name of stewardship, or we have failed to comprehend the “Parable of the Ten Talents” and the greatest error is failure to use–even take rational risks) the gifts God has so abundantly graced mankind with.

  19. acricketchirps says:

    People who promote and have sex between people of the same sex are violating God’s obvious will. Homosexual sex is a mortal sin.

    Father, humbly I would ask you to rephrase.

    I”ve always railed against the use of the word gay to describe homosexual. The Irish have made me realize I should have been railing against the use of the words “homosexual” to describe sodomite and “sex” to describe what sodomites do. The nonsensical idea that there can be same sex marriage stems from the false idea that sodomy is just another type of sex. In fact sexual intercourse and sodomy in all but one small facet of their natures are diametrically opposed.

    Bring back the word “sodomy.” They’re gonna call haters anyway; might as well be for speaking the precise undiluted truth.

  20. iamlucky13 says:

    In secular discussions, the expectations for the encyclical seem to be all over the place, but the most consistent expectation seems to be that Pope Francis will declare global warming a fact. Some even seem to expect it to be doctrinal and infallible.

    Since the Associated Press and other article factories no longer have many journalists dedicated to specific topics like religion, much less specific religions, they contribute a lot to this. The writers have no clue what an encyclical is, the difference between teaching on existing doctrines or declaring new doctrines, etc.

    “Ireland vote for same-sex marriage a watershed moment for church teaching”

    The title says enough, but the text of the article points towards the same conclusion: The Church is not guided by the Holy Spirit. The Magisterium is comprised of the scattered electorates of the world.

    “Saying of gay people, “Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?” yet devoting Wednesday sermons to teaching about family life using traditional male-female images. “


    The obtuseness here is strong. The summation “love the sinner, hate the sin” (a teaching that Gandhi also repeated) is the simplest interpretation of the supposedly contradictory “two-step” actions of the pope that the fishwrap’s editorial board frets over. They refuse to even consider that interpretation.

    “Francis clearly has great expectations for the church, but his vision won’t be realized if he loses a generation of Catholics by imposing on them a teaching they have clearly rejected. “

    The fishwrap reiterates their opinion that the Magisterium is democratic.

  21. Traductora says:

    I was sort of hopeful when I saw the phrase “natural law,” and then I read about Fr. Eberhard Schockenhoff ( one of the attendees of last week’s “Shadow Synod”). He’s a German so-called moral theologian who has developed a peculiar understanding of natural law that seems to refer to a few points he considers basic and that provide rights, but has nothing to do with Church’s moral law and cannot be used as a basis for it, nor can secular bodies of law cite natural law. In other words, it’s all positive (man made) law floating on top of a stew of “rights.”

    Aside from being pro-gay and other unattractive things, he is known to be very much in favor of population control and the overt rejection of Humanae Vitae. I think the Philippine bishop Tagle is also of this mind and it was in the course of an interview about his views that the Pope made the unfortunate remark about Catholics not having to be (breed, by implication) like rabbits. So I think this encyclical – if it goes bad – will be the rejection of the Church’s traditional teaching on birth control and human fertility, and the acceptance of the UN population control model as an earth-loving moral standard. I’m by no means sure that Francis is going to do this, although the people involved in the writing of this encyclical would certainly have no trouble accepting it.

  22. Pingback: EcoLinks 06.01.15 | Acton PowerBlog

  23. kimberley jean says:

    I was forced to watch Brother Sun, Sister Moon in high school. It took years to go over it.

  24. Praynfast says:

    Yes, homosexual sex is a sin, but so too are willed homosexual thoughts (homosexual thoughts that are consented to and permitted to continue). The Church teaches that sin can occur at the level of thought, and the Church teaches that homosexual “acts” are sins. “Willed thoughts” are consented-to “movements of the mind” or “acts” of the mind. Hence, willed homosexual thoughts are sins, too. This fact is all-too-often ignored when discussing this repugnant subject.

  25. WYMiriam says:

    An open letter to Pope Francis:

    Your Holiness:

    Why on earth would you even consider writing on such a subject, when our eternal salvation is so much more serious and urgent?

    Sincerely yours, from the peripheries

  26. iamlucky13 says:

    “Yes, homosexual sex is a sin, but so too are willed homosexual thoughts (homosexual thoughts that are consented to and permitted to continue). “

    Lest anyone get the impression that this arises from an obsession with homosexuals, it might be remiss to not also note that willed heterosexual thoughts can also be (and quite frequently are) sinful. All are called to the chastity appropriate to out state in life. For the unmarried, that means many similar disciplines whether you experience heterosexual or homosexual attraction. For the married, there is still the clear need to direct your affection and energy to your spouse, and to do so in a loving and self-giving manner.

    “Why on earth would you even consider writing on such a subject, when our eternal salvation is so much more serious and urgent?”

    The answer to that is simple: because he believes that abusing the environment can place our eternal salvation at serious and urgent risk.

    What sorts of activities might arise to serious level of moral risk may be debatable, but that some actions can harm others even though that’s not their direct intent is not. One easy example is a major oil spill. Although extracting oil for human use is not inherently wrong, and many spills are genuinely accidental, it is also definitely possible to do it in reckless manner that increases the risk of accidents that harm the property and livelihoods of others, or even cause death. With the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, the investigation found multiple cases of negligence and misconduct had created the conditions where the spill was able to occur, which not only affected the livelihoods of those dependent on the fishery and tourism industries, but killed 11 people.

    Others are, of course, imagining that Pope Francis is pointing his finger distinctly at global warming, but I rather doubt his scope will be so narrow, nor that he will wade directly into the debate over whether it is actually occurring and what the effects will be.

  27. tjmurphy says:

    Homosexual (Same Sex Attraction) sex is a mortal sin. SO IS premarital Heterosexual sex, so is Heterosexual sex outside of marriage.

  28. robtbrown says:


    Heterosexual sex is natural; Homosexual sex is unnatural.

    To put it in technical theological language: Heterosexual (one man, one woman) is good in its genus but can be evil in its species (e.g, wrong person). Homosexual sex is evil in its genus, and so is always evil in its species.

  29. pmullane says:


    “To echo the comment above, one has to wonder why a more parochial Papal encyclical, aimed at Catholics in Ireland, instructing them to not betray God as they did with their vote against Holy Marriage, wasn’t published. This seems like quite a lost opportunity.”

    You would think, if there is any advantage in being histories most cuddly fluffy Pope in history, and setting yourself up to some extent against the ‘bad’ elements within the Church, it would be that such a Pope could reach Catholics, disillusioned with the institutional Church, on a personal level. All these people that we are told are having a second look the church due to the ‘Francis effect’. Which makes it strange that the Pope was silent on this issue. I worry about Francis, reports say he doesnt read newspapers or watch television, and if this is true his lines of communication to the world would be horribly narrow, and give those people who he relies on for counsel even more power.

  30. discens says:

    Continuing what tjmurphy says: artificially contracepted sex is also a mortal sin. It is also, however, an unnatural vice because, like homosexual acts, it perverts the sexual act from what that act naturally is. Simple fornication between man and woman without artificial contraception is a mortal sin but not an unnatural vice, because it does not pervert the act. Rather it perverts the context, namely the context a child needs in order to flourish and grow and the context the man and woman need in order to grow and flourish together. The conclusion one must draw is that married heterosexual couples who use artificial contraceptives are engaging in acts that are, morally speaking, no different from homosexual acts; and further, their marriage is, to the extent it involves such contracepted acts, no different from homosexual marriage. Those of any tradition, religious or not, who condemn homosexual marriage but not artificial contraception between married heterosexuals are contradicting themselves. There is no hope of countering the homosexual agenda without first countering artificial contraception. That is where the battle lies; that is where the battle was lost decades ago; that is where the battle needs to be renewed if victory is to be hoped for. Going after homosexual marriage principally or alone is playing into the enemy’s hands. Victory is not secured by turning one’s weapons against oneself, which is what we are doing as long as we refuse to declare openly and often and principally that artificial contraception is as much a mockery of marriage as homosexual marriage is, indeed perhaps a worse mockery.

    An immediate advantage, by the way, of making such an open declaration is that the debate will immediately cease to be about homosexuals, and so will cease to turn on charges of homophobia or sexual equality or the like (where the enemy has a rhetorical advantage). It will turn precisely on the meaning of sex and so will force the enemy to fight on the Church’s terms. It will also bring fully and glaringly into the light for all, including Catholics, what the Church really teaches. Of course what the Church teaches will only be mentioned in order to be mocked; but it will be mentioned; and the more the mockery the more the mentioning.

    Remember the wise words of Oscar Wilde: the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. High time that the world was talking — angrily, mockingly, uncomprehendingly, unceasingly — about the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception. For once the world starts talking about it, that teaching will start winning all by itself because it will shock people into facing reality; and the debate about homosexual marriage will fade into what it is: a side skirmish that is irrelevant to the main battle. We are losing the battle now because we are fighting the side skirmish, while the enemy is sauntering unchallenged over the battlefield slaying thousands.

  31. robtbrown says:


    1. All contraception is proscribed, not just that which is artificial.

    2. Contracepted heterosexual sex is much different from homosexual sex. The former is a natural act in which its natural effect is prevented. The latter is not a natural act.

  32. robtbrown says:

    If I might amplify:

    I thought of referring to end rather than effect, but thought its philosophical meaning would not be known by many. Of course, agere propter finem is applicable, and agere must be proportionate to the finis. The excellent emphasis of JPII was that in contracepted sex there is something missing in the actus, so that not merely the procreative aspect is damaged but also the unitive. Still, contracepted sex is a natural act which is defective due to the absence of a very important component. There is, however, nothing natural in homosexual acts.

  33. discens says:

    In response to robtbrown, I say ‘artificial’ contraception to distinguish it, first, from natural family planning, where a married couple, for good reasons, temporarily avoid the marriage act during the wife’s period of fertility, and, second, from marriage acts between couples who are infertile together. Marriage acts in these cases are true marriage acts even if they can never result in conception, for here the impediment is not in the act but in factors extrinsic to the act (the naturally temporary or permanent infertility of one or other spouse). An artificially contracepted act between heterosexuals is only different from a sexual act between homosexuals as to the persons involved and not as to the act itself. A contracepted act is, precisely as such an act, incapable of conception whatever one does with it (even if the contraception fails, the act remains morally the same, because the contraception is meant to be 100 per cent effective, and the couple would make it so if they could). In this respect, that is, qua contracepted, this act is not different from any other act that, as such, is incapable of conception. Of course, a heterosexual couple who contracept can more easily regularize their relations, namely by removing the contraception. A homosexual couple would have to change partners. Moral reflection, however, requires us to take acts in their strict and intrinsic nature, and in their strict and intrinsic nature heterosexual contracepted acts are no different from homosexual acts.

  34. discens says:

    Addendum: there is something natural in homosexual acts, namely the ejaculation of semen in the man’s case and the motion of the cervix in the woman’s (orgasm in either case). The trouble with homosexual acts is that neither natural event can do its job: semen being emitted for the cervix and the cervix acting to receive the semen. The same trouble happens in contracepted heterosexual acts, as is obvious in the case of condoms or a cervical cap, but holds too of the pill or other devices. The pill, if I understand it correctly, changes uterus and/or fallopian tubes etc. so that these are not fit for semen or egg etc. The result is the same: natural events deliberately made unable to do their job. The deliberate choice makes the act morally bad in the relevant respect. Precisely the same holds of homosexual acts. Morally they are equivalent regardless of any natural differences that may otherwise still obtain.

  35. robtbrown says:


    NFP is not contraception, natural or otherwise. Although it possibly can include the Intention not to conceive, the morality of an act is measured by the act itself, not the Intention. In fact, there have been proportionalists (if memory serves, among whom, Fuchs) who previously thought NFP to be necessarily immoral. In both his positions, the movement from rigorism to laxism, he tries to reduce the morality of the human act to intention.

    Nor is a contracepted act merely one incapable of conception. How can it be thus when there is nothing done to frustrate conception? (Maybe you’ve been spending too much time in China.)

    And your last sentence is inexcusably erroneous. I already pointed out above why you are wrong.

  36. robtbrown says:

    Re Addendum:

    You’ve gone from bad to worse. According to what you have said, there would be no such thing as an unnatural act in so far as all acts always involve natural faculties. Human sexuality by nature involves someone else, but you have defined it as solitary: Acts of necrophilia are unnatural acts.

    Older, sterile couples are not contracepting because they have done nothing to prevent conception. The requirement is not that a couple must intend conception with every sexual act, but rather that they do nothing to prevent it.

  37. discens says:

    rbtbrown. Your first response is a quibble about words. I said ‘artificial contraception’ to avoid any confusion with NFP or natural infertility (the confusion not seldom arises and NFP has sometimes been referred to in my hearing as natural contraception, however inaccurately). But I don’t mind changing the term for the purpose of discussion with you, and removing the ‘artificial’. As long as we are agreed what acts we are talking about.

    Your second response ignores the distinction between faculties and acts. No natural faculty is unnatural but an act of a natural faculty can be and is in the case of contraception. Contraception denatures the act, not the faculty, and thereby makes the act wilfully unnatural, and no more and no less unnatural than a homosexual act (or than necrophilia or masturbation). You have, despite your claim, said nothing to refute this point.

  38. Uxixu says:

    Sodomy is one of the sins that cries to Heaven for vengeance. Artificial contraception not so much, though one of the major issues with some varieties of the pill essentially induce abortions and are thus equivalent with infanticide. Those that fool the woman’s body into not releasing eggs are a different matter and would stand as mortal sins for interfering with the procreative possibility necessary for the Christian dignity of the marital relation and not on the same magnitude of iniquity.

  39. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Actually, the old manuals say that sodomy includes any unnatural act of sex. They don’t care who’s doing it or what body part is involved; it just has to be contrary to procreation and weird.

  40. discens says:

    Why does artificial contraception (or contraception simply, as robtbrown wishes) not cry to heaven for vengeance? You say it does not, but your say so is not an argument. What is your argument?

  41. Veritatis Splendor says:

    St. Thomas Aquinas agrees with discens. The unnatural vice contains more than just homosexual acts (sodomy proper), but also, and I quote “procuring pollution, without any copulation, for the sake of venereal pleasure: this pertains to the sin of ‘uncleanness’ which some call ‘effeminacy'” and that we call masturbation, “bestiality,” and “by not observing the natural manner of copulation, either as to undue means, or as to other monstrous and bestial manners of copulation,” which would include contraception and IVF. All of which are “contrary to the natural order of the venereal act as becoming to the human race: and this is called “the unnatural vice.” (S.T. II-II, Q. 154, A. 11, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province). It all hidges on whether the sin of Sodomy is homosexual acts or the unnatural vice in general. Since bestiality is a greater sin (A. 12, Reply to Obj. 4), it would seem that that too would be included as a sin that cries out to heaven, and if allow that, then sodomy in a general sense is the sin that cries out to heaven, so all four offenses are included, with, of course, differing gravity between them.

  42. robtbrown says:

    discens says (not rationally),

    Your second response ignores the distinction between faculties and acts. No natural faculty is unnatural but an act of a natural faculty can be and is in the case of contraception.

    Contraception denatures the act, not the faculty, and thereby makes the act wilfully unnatural, and no more and no less unnatural than a homosexual act (or than necrophilia or masturbation). You have, despite your claim, said nothing to refute this point.


    If a woman is on a medication whose secondary effect stops ovulation, is she engaging unnatural sex? If you say no, then you have contradicted all your previous arguments. If you say yes, then you are with Peter Lombard and the Proportionalists, who think that morality of a human act is found in intention.

    A faculty is determined by its act, not its end. That’s why in every human act there are two acts of the will: One willing the object (i.e., the proportion between the act and its effect), the other intending the end.

    You seem to think that the end determines the nature (thus morality) of the act, which is silly. As I noted before (and you conveniently ignored), homosexual acts are evil in the genus. Heterosexual acts are good in their genus and are considered evil in their species only by some defect.

    I suggest you read IaIIae, 18.

    Just as important, I still insist that Peter O’Toole was the weak link in Lawrence of Arabia.

  43. robtbrown says:

    Peter Lombard should read Peter Abelard

  44. The Masked Chicken says:

    “In response to robtbrown, I say ‘artificial’ contraception to distinguish it, first, from natural family planning, where a married couple, for good reasons, temporarily avoid the marriage act during the wife’s period of fertility, and, second, from marriage acts between couples who are infertile together.”

    If we are taking a vote, I agree with robtbrown. Natural Family Planning, may (although unlikely), occur accidentally through a purely statistical process (really, really perfect, but accidental, timing with the wife’s fertility cycle). In this case, this is, simply not contraception in any sense of the word and, yet, it has exactly the same result as chosen NFP. In proper NFP. the couple takes advantage of something that occurs, naturally. It is a meta-choice, (outside the bounds of nature). In other words, NFP transcends nature, but does not subvert it. Contraception subverts nature.

    Also, how, by any stretch of the imagination can sex between old people be called contraception?
    The old or infertile people did not cause their infertility. They would have children if they could. Contraception means, “against conception.” Nature has no will, so it can’t be against anything and if God decides that a couple cannot have children (anymore), then it is not contraception by action of the First Principle. You would make God the author of natural contraception, by your argument, which is a contradiction. God is not against conception in marriage. To imply this is to contradict God who said, “Be fertile and multiply.” God can, permissively, prevent conception, but He cannot, properly speaking, be contra-conception, which is what contraception means.

    In fine, there is no such thing as natural contraception. It is an oxymoron. You mean to say, perhaps, non-fertility?

    With regards to the homosexual act being, in part, natural, you are not making is a fine enough distinction between levels of teleology. The goal of the mouth is to eat, so eating anything, by your definition would be a natural act, but eating poison, while natural in the goal of the mouth mechanism, is not natural with regards to the teleology of the process of eating, which is to sustain life. It seems to me that you are conflating discourse levels. Some act may be natural with regards to its mechanism, but unnatural with regards to its ultimate ends. As robtbrown points out, it is the end which determines the morality of an act and the end sought must be sought with a consistent teleology. Consequentialism fails precisely because, while the end might be good, the means are not, so there is no consistent teleology of the act.

    The rest of your comment is okay. This is a quibble about precise language usage.

    The Chicken

  45. discens says:

    To robtbrown. I say no to your opening question because of the principle of double effect. I do not thereby contradict any of my previous arguments.

    As for faculty and act and end I do not deny any of your theses. I deny that you are applying them correctly to my argument. Homosexual acts are indeed evil in their genus and heterosexual acts are not. But when is an act heterosexual? Not merely because the partners are of opposite gender, or will you say that anal and oral sex between partners of opposite gender is heterosexual sex? I wager you’ll have the Angelic Doctor against you if you do. The act itself that they perform must be heterosexual, to wit that the male member, the membrum virile, uses the right ‘vessel’, the debitum vas, to use the somewhat clinical terminology of the scholastics. But a condom is not the debitum vas, even if it happens to be inserted in the debitum vas. Nor is a vas which has its opening artificially blocked (a cervical cap) or its inside artificially rendered deadly the debitum vas. So no such apparent insertions of membra virilia into debita vasa are really such. So they are not heterosexual acts but perverted or monstrous acts (again to use scholastic terminology, which here becomes surprisingly colorful). In this precise respect they are no different from homosexual acts. Such is my argument.

  46. discens says:

    To the Masked Chicken. I agree with you on the precise language and already said as much in my response to robtbrown. I would prefer not to have to use the phrase ‘artificial contraception’ for the reasons you give. I did so initially for the sake of those who do use it and might have been confused by my argument if I did not explain myself. With you and robtbrown I am happy to know that I need have no fear of such confusion. So all your deductions from what you say I said miss their mark in my case.

    As for the mouth and its natural functions, any opening or closing of it or ingesting things through it or expelling things out of it is natural qua its being as the act of a natural power (for we can only do any of those things because the mouth by nature is fitted to do them). To open the mouth to ingest poison would be wrong since it would be the infliction of self-harm. But no one could open their mouth or ingest poison through it if opening and ingesting through it were not things the mouth naturally does. So with sex. Unless the sexual organs were naturally fitted for acts of orgasm, no act of orgasm would ever happen with anyone about anything. But to be good and natural as voluntarily chosen acts they must be done in a certain way and not in other ways. I meant nothing more, and nothing less.

  47. Imrahil says:

    Note that Laudato si (a paraphrase of the Canticle of the Sun with Italian chorus) happens to be the German equivalent for Gather Us In or the like…

  48. Imrahil says:

    that willed heterosexual thoughts can also be (and quite frequently are) sinful.

    That is true. But us heterosexuals not bound by marriage or vow have a far range of legitimate wishes and speculations (“wouldn’t it be awesome to be married to that wonderful a lady?”, etc.) we can think about. Hence, we have the easier way out.

  49. The Masked Chicken says:

    “To open the mouth to ingest poison would be wrong since it would be the infliction of self-harm. But no one could open their mouth or ingest poison through it if opening and ingesting through it were not things the mouth naturally does.”

    Let me try, again. The mouth opening and closing is what the mouth does, in itself. That is its nature. It has no moral assignability, since it is not a moral act, per se. We were, originally, talking about the use of the term, “natural contraception,” and from there you tried to make the case that there is something natural in the unnatural homosexuality act, when robtbrown made the point that the homosexual act is unnatural. This is unintended equivocation, however. The unnaturalness of homosexuality comes from its defective teleology. It violates the ends of the marital act. Yes, a bodily part may function in a “natural,” way (read: normal), but that mere accident does not render the act, in toto, natural. Homosexual acts use natural means to an evil or unnatural end. Natural means (follow this, for it is important) occur according to the end designed by Nature. In that sense, there cannot be a natural contraception, because contraception is, by its essence, a conscious act and Nature has no consciousness. You, really, meant, natural non-fertility, not natural contraception. If you substitute the words, natural non-fertility, where you wrote natural contraception in your original long comment, then it still makes the same point. I suppose as long as we define our terms, on this issue, we are, probably quibbling.

    However, you wrote:

    “An artificially contracepted act between heterosexuals is only different from a sexual act between homosexuals as to the persons involved and not as to the act itself.”

    This is not really clear. Different in what sense? Males and females, properly, have sex. Same-sex, do not. There can be multiple levels of accidents associated with these two different scenarios and that makes them not identical, except for a few things, such as procreative ability. They are not the same act. Robtbrown is right that there needs to be a distinction made between the genus of an act and its species.

    Opening and closing the mouth is a natural act; using it in a subsidiary process to ingest poison does not make ingesting poison, thereby, a natural act. While opening the mouth is a natural process, the end reason for opening the mouth may violate the reasonableness of opening the mouth. It is natural to open the mouth, but it is not natural to open the mouth to knowingly ingest poison.

    St. Thomas defines the goodness of compound acts composed of different individual acts thus (ST

    “I answer that, as stated above (Article 1) the good or evil of an action, as of other things, depends on its fulness of being or its lack of that fulness. Now the first thing that belongs to the fulness of being seems to be that which gives a thing its species. And just as a natural thing has its species from its form, so an action has its species from its object, as movement from its term. And therefore just as the primary goodness of a natural thing is derived from its form, which gives it its species, so the primary goodness of a moral action is derived from its suitable object: hence some call such an action “good in its genus”; for instance, “to make use of what is one’s own.” And just as, in natural things, the primary evil is when a generated thing does not realize its specific form (for instance, if instead of a man, something else be generated); so the primary evil in moral actions is that which is from the object, for instance, “to take what belongs to another.” And this action is said to be “evil in its genus,” genus here standing for species, just as we apply the term “mankind” to the whole human species.”

    From art 5:

    “Now in human actions, good and evil are predicated in reference to the reason; because as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv), “the good of man is to be in accordance with reason,” and evil is “to be against reason.” For that is good for a thing which suits it in regard to its form; and evil, that which is against the order of its form. It is therefore evident that the difference of good and evil considered in reference to the object is an essential difference in relation to reason; that is to say, according as the object is suitable or unsuitable to reason. Now certain actions are called human or moral, inasmuch as they proceed from the reason. Consequently it is evident that good and evil diversify the species in human actions; since essential differences cause a difference of species.”

    It is not unreasonable for male and female to have sex. That is its genus. Contraception refers to a specific species of the sexual act.

    It is prima facie unreasonable for members of the same sex to have sex. That it might, accidentally, include contraception in the act does not make it of the same moral defectiveness as contraception, since contraception is a defect in species, while homosexuality is a defect in genus. Both are unreasonable, but the unreasonableness of contraception lies on a level farther down the processing chain.

    The Chicken

  50. The Masked Chicken says:

    I suppose we are arguing subtle points. Everyone agrees that the homosexual act is morally wrong. We should, probably, wait until the actual encyclical comes out to see if any of this is discussed in it and save these finer distinctions for a different venue. Sorry, for getting side-tracked. My fault. i ran in with my big mouth. I think everyone’s heart is in the right place on this issue.

    The Chicken

  51. robtbrown says:

    Veritatis Splendor,

    No, St Thomas does not disagree with me.

    NB: I’m not saying that homosexuality is the only unnatural sexual sin. I’m saying that contracepted sex practiced by married people, even though gravely sinful, is not an unnatural act.

  52. robtbrown says:

    Re “the unnatural vice”: The Latin is of course “vitium contra naturam”–without any definite or indefinite article.

  53. discens says:

    To Masked Chicken. We seem to agree on everything save that you think homosexual acts are defective in genus and contracepted acts defective in species so that while both are defective they are intrinsically different acts. My reply: heterosexual is not properly a species of sexual act. Lots of things can be heterosexual that are not sexual (a conversation between a man and a woman is a heterosexual conversation but not an act of sex). If we talk more precisely then of heterosexual sexual act, this too is not a species of sexual act but part of the definition of sexual act. A sexual act is an intrinsically procreative act (I say ‘procreative’ and not ‘procreating’ because a given sexual act may fail to result in procreation). And of course difference of sex is included in the idea of procreative. But so is absence of contraception. Sameness of sex and presence of contraception both destroy the nature of the act. A destroyed act is not properly a species of act but a distortion of it. Still let us allow that distorted sexual acts are a species of sexual act. But then they are a different species from natural sexual acts (or from sexual acts proper). This different species could be said to have species under it, as solitary sex, contracepted sex, homosexual sex, bestial sex. I would call them all masturbation (even if etymologically the word comes from ‘with the hand’), and say that they differ, not in species, but in instrument (with a hand, a shoe, a mouth, a condom, etc. etc.). Anyway, the upshot is that contracepted heterosexual acts are in the same species as homosexual acts, and both are in a different species from sexual acts proper or from natural sexual acts. So my point remains: contracepted heterosexual acts are specifically the same as homosexual acts and both are wrong in their kind and in the same kind (the moral theologians say ‘ex genere’ but they are not using ‘genus’ here as it is technically distinct from ‘species’). I don’t now what else I can say to make my argument clear.

  54. discens says:

    PS. Instead of ‘heterosexual is not properly a species of sexual act’, I should perhaps have said ‘heterosexual and homosexual are not properly either species or genus of sexual act’… My point and argument remain the same, however.

  55. Chiara says:

    Dear Fr. Z –

    Thank you for clarifying this and defending my good St. Francis. I was just professed in the Ordo Franciscanus Saecularum (I am sure your Latin spelling is better than mine – please correct if necessary) this past Saturday, to the best of my knowledge, the only candidate in my Diocese! I am still rejoicing in the second happiest day of my life.

    St. Francis was not the wishy-washy hippie he is made out to be in popular culture and by the left wing of the Church. He was courteous, handsome, charismatic, and a definite party boy who loved to dress in rich clothing and sing and carouse with his friends. After being held in prison for a year as a prisoner of war, he became introspective as he examined his life. He was profoundly touched by God, and eventually renounced everything from his inheritance to his family. Francis turned his life and soul over to God, and served Him for the rest of his life.

    St. Francis had the greatest of respect even for wayward priests, because they offered Mass and converted bread and wine into the True Body and Precious Blood of Jesus (St. Francis never became a priest out of humility – he was a deacon). And as you said, Father, he believed nothing was too good for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, from altar linens to music, and he always insisted on the best he and his brothers could manage when they prepared for Mass.

    St. Francis was a good, holy man, but he was well-aware of his limitations. He NEVER allowed himself to be in the presence of women without at least one of his brothers with him. And he never stopped trying to improve and cleanse his soul out of love of God.

    And he did all this and more with great joy, humility, and with patience for his fellow creatures.

    Needless to say, even though I am a woman, I could only choose my much-loved St. Francis of Assisi as my Franciscan Patron Saint and name for our profession ceremony!

    God bless you, Father, and all your readers! Pax et Bonum!)

  56. chantgirl says:

    discerns- I am trying to understand your argument. Would you consider a newly married couple who uses a condom on their wedding night to have consummated their marriage? Should we still consider them virgins? Are they eligible for an annulment- in other words- have they had sex or not?

    It seems that when we define the sex act by intention instead of by the body parts used, we play right into the “theology of love” being pushed by Kasper and Marx.

  57. discens says:

    Chantgirl. Thanks for your question. Said newly married couple would not properly have consummated their marriage but abused it. They would nevertheless, I think, have consummated it to the extent of losing virginity (the woman by having her hymen broken by penetration, the man by the penetration, and both by complete mutual masturbation). They would not therefore be able to annul the marriage on grounds of non-consummation. Had they married with the intention never to have children (even if they could) but still to have sex, that intention would invalidate the marriage (a celibate marriage intended as celibate from the beginning is a true marriage, as was the marriage of St. Joseph and Our Lady, but the couple can be released from it, by proper Church authority, so as to enter religious life, if I understand correctly). Had they married with the intention to have children but also to contracept, I don’t think the intention sometimes to contracept, though intrinsically wrong, would invalidate the marriage. But I am no expert here and wiser heads will be able to correct me. As for defining sex by intention alone I agree. Sex is defined by the act (that it is naturally procreative) not by the intention alone. A ‘theology of love’ that defines mutual masturbation as love is neither theology nor love.

  58. robtbrown says:


    That you reference the principle of double effect is proof that you still want to reduce the nature of the moral object to intention. The nature of a moral object is not determined by intention. Whether a human act is natural or unnatural is concerns its quid. Intention concerns its Cur.

    Human sexuality occurs between a man and woman–it starts there. That certain acts happen between a man and a woman that could be unnatural doesn’t change the fact that the participants are natural.

    Homosexual acts happen between/among men or women. Any act in that situation is by definition unnatural.

  59. The Masked Chicken says:

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but what the heck is human ecology? If it is what I think it is, then it is inherently non-linear. I guarantee that we have nothing more than an infantile understanding of the feedback processes controlling the man-environment system. This is a really bad time to be writing an encyclical on ecology. I speak as a scientist who knows something about non-linear systems.

    The part of the encyclical about climate, strangely enough, is probably on a better footing (and that is very slippery) than anything we know about human ecology. I want to say this humbly, but forcefully – why are theologians making recommendations to a sitting pope about matters we really, hardly, know much about?

    I just did a quick literature review of human ecology. Talk about gumball science :( Look, we don ‘t understand economic, we don’t understand the environment, we don’t understand human psychology. Put these deficiencies in knowledge together into one discipline and it is a recipe for trouble.

    Why, why, why? Here’s my test to see if this is an encyclical for the ages or merely a passing time-bound document: if this encyclical were really an all-encompassing theological examination of human ecology, it would be able to provide a theological description of a theoretical ecology to govern the zombie apocalypse. I know that sounds flippant, but I trust that it is clearly understood that ecology is too fuzzy a topic to be a subject for an encyclical at this time, in my opinion. It will and must be a subject at a later date, because by then human options will have become more limited. Study the discipline yourself and see if you can find a science, there.

    The Chicken

  60. discens says:

    To robtbrown. How does my reference to double effect prove that I want to reduce the nature of the moral object to intention? Double effect requires one to be very careful about the object and not just the intention (one of the conditions is that the act with the double effect not be intrinsically wrong, i.e. wrong regardless of intention).

    Also human sexuality does not start with the fact it occurs between a man and a woman. It starts with the fact that sex is intrinsically procreative. The point is a matter of logic. Some living things procreate asexually and some sexually. Asexual procreation and sexual procreation are coordinate species under the genus procreative or generative, which is under the genus of living or animate thing, which is under the genus of body (etc. as per Porphyry’s Tree). Man and most animals procreate sexually. Sexually means through union of male and female. But not just any union. Procreative union. Once the procreative is gone it matters not whether male and female unite or two males unite or two females unite. In all such cases sexual activity is no longer procreative and so no longer natural (logically no longer natural because no longer under its logical genus). It is just a mistake to say heterosexual is the difference that specifies sex as natural and not unnatural. It is rather the difference that specifies procreation as sexual and not asexual. Anything sexual (whether heterosexual or homosexual or what you will) that is taken away from the genus procreation is taken away from its natural place. It is unnatural. As a matter of logic. QED.

  61. Veritatis Splendor says:

    Robtbrown: I apologise. I did not fully understand your argument. I do still contend that, though homosexual acts are certainly more grave, since there is no disparity of sex, any method of copulation, even between a husband and wife, besides one that is both procreative and unitive, is still unnatural, and that was my purpose of using Thomas. Abnormal means of copulation are still “contra naturam,” and are, like homosexual acts, sinful by the act itself, no matter the intent, though that act can also be committed by intending the same thing (the “contraceptive mentality” in reference to NFP mentioned above). It is sinful whether or not a conception is actually prevented, and so the fault does not lie in the improper end, and if the fault lay in the circumstance, then the Church would not universally condemn it. By process of elimination, the sin resides in the act, just as in homosexual acts.

    N.B. My Scholastic-theologianese is still rather weak, so I may still be misunderstanding your point (and discens point, for that matter).

    N.B. 2. Since Thomas treats all four parts of the unnatural vice, or if you prefer, the vice against nature, as substantially connected, and no other vice against nature is proposed, a singular definite article is justified even though there are no articles in Latin.

  62. discens says:

    Veritatis Splendor. I think you got Thomas right, so you don’t really need to apologize to robtbrown. Show him Porphyry’s Tree. Thomas would, I wager.

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